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Death toll from earthquake in Indonesia hits 844; hundreds of bodies thrown in mass graves
A man walks through the rubble and debris of a building that was destroyed by a tsunami, on Monday in Palu, Indonesia. Over 844 people have been confirmed dead after a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake slammed into Indonesia's coastline on the island of Sulawesi, causing thousands of homes to collapse, along with hospitals, hotels and shopping centers. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

Death toll from earthquake in Indonesia hits 844; hundreds of bodies thrown in mass graves

A 7.5 magnitude earthquake and the tsunami it caused have left hundreds dead in Indonesia. As survivors struggle with a lack of food, water, and shelter, they have been forced to bury many of the dead in mass graves.

What happened?

On Monday, Indonesian authorities put the death toll at 844 and expect that it will continue to rise. According to the New York Times, authorities said that they have been forced to bury at least 300 bodies in a mass grave.

More than 48,000 people have been displaced.

Also, more than 1,000 prisoners held in five separate prisons have been able to escape. In one prison, the Palu Penitentiary, the electricity went out and a wall collapsed. According to the Washington Post, the guards on duty panicked and focused on saving their own lives as the prisoners took advantage of the situation and freed themselves.

Indonesia has detector buoys, which are supposed to alert the government to an approaching tsunami, so that people can be given as much time as possible to evacuate areas likely to be affected. However, Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency told the BBC that before this tsunami hit, none of these buoys were actually working. The agency blamed this on vandals, who it said had either damaged or stolen all 21 of the sensors attached to these buoys.

The earthquake also caused power outages, which in turn prevented authorities from being able to warn people about the tsunami. Even when people were warned, authorities underestimated just how bad this tsunami would be.

“The ground rose up like a spine and suddenly fell,” resident Nur Indah said, according to USA Today. “Many people were trapped and buried under collapsed houses. I could do nothing to help. In the evening, some of them turned on their cellphones just to give a sign that they were there. But the lights were off later and the next day.”

Rescuers continue to search for survivors.

"We have to do many things soon, but conditions do not allow us to do so,” Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said on Sunday.


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